Colorado Rockies save fireworks for after the 4th of July game vs Reds

DENVER, CO - JULY 4: A general view of the stadium as fans enjoy a fireworks display after the Cincinnati Reds 8-1 win against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 4, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 4: A general view of the stadium as fans enjoy a fireworks display after the Cincinnati Reds 8-1 win against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on July 4, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Rockies just aren’t very good on the Fourth of July. The team has lost on Independence Day for the fourth consecutive season and are 9-17 in franchise history. The only fireworks at Coors Field on this Fourth of July were reserved for after the game, as the Cincinnati Reds outperformed the Rockies in every aspect of the game winning 8-1.

Chad Bettis throws live batting practice

Easily the best thing to happen this holiday for the Rockies was Chad Bettis throwing live batting practice. Bettis threw 30 pitches in the bullpen, 25 on the mound and 8 warm-up pitches. Bettis said that he felt more comfortable out of the stretch right now than with his windup. Regardless of what position he pitches from, being on the mound is where Bettis feels most comfortable.

"“I felt really good out there. I was really excited out there. It was nice to be talking about mechanics again instead of how I’m feeling, how my strength is, how I’m recovering and stuff like that. Mechanically, I felt good. I threw a couple curve balls where I just broke too early and spiked a couple, but overall, felt pretty good,” Bettis said."

Bud Black was impressed by his starter’s performance complementing Bettis’ change up and breaking ball as both have increasing intensity. Black compared Bettis to a pitcher coming out of spring training. Those pitcher’s schedules include throwing three side sessions, three bullpens and two batting practices. Black classified this as Bettis’ first batting practice.

"“If you really think about it, position players don’t really need six weeks, relief pitchers don’t need six weeks. Starting pitchers need six weeks. Part of the six weeks has already taking place for Chad. I thought he looked pretty good. He is passing all of these markers and it’s really good to see,” Black said."

More pitching is always welcome and the Rockies could use their 2016 wins-leader back in this tough 2-10 stretch since June 20. More importantly Bettis said he feels normal as can be and that he feels back.

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Back to the game

In the third inning, Reds second baseman Jose Peraza singled in the a run to bring Cincinnati’s lead to 4-1. Starter Kyle Freeland‘s command was elusive the whole game. Black came to the mound  and as all the infield started to come in, the manager signaled that this was just a conversation between him and Freeland. When the umpire came to the mound after the 30-second mound visit clock expired, Black showed no signs that he was leaving anytime soon. He had a message to deliver.

"“I’m not going to tell you about our conversation,” Black said. “I think overall the line looks a little worse than how he pitched. He had a couple pitches up later in the game. [Billy] Hamilton was a little pain in the ass tonight. The one that hurt him looked like a pretty good pitch. The slider down that [Hamilton] sort of dug out. That gave them three runs. Kyle hung in there. They chipped away. He made some pitches that I thought were decent that they got base hits off of.”"

Whatever Black said to Freeland, it worked. The lefty retired the next eight batters although he eventually allowed a home run to end his night. Even though he rebounded, it was not the night Freeland envisioned.

"“It was rough,” he said. “There was some positives you could take out of it but in my eyes it was a pretty rough outing. Really didn’t have my command from the get go. Had some bleeders fall in that turned into runs and then they had some hard hit balls on mistake pitches.”"

The outing was just the second of eight home starts where he did not pitch six or more innings. He also only had one strikeout which is a career and season low. So what changed after Peraza’s single?

"“Tried tweaking little things. Trying to get my command back. Trying to get to the bottom of the zone. Really trying to hit it out on the end and get extension. I think that was probably what it was but again my command was not what it should be.”"

Next: Chad Bettis close to a minor league rehab assignment

While Freeland did not pitch to his potential, the offense sputtered and is a bigger factor to the current slide. The Rockies have averaged 3.08 runs-per game since the last time they won consecutive games since June 18-20. As always, this team wins and dies with the bats. The All-Star break is looking more and more like a very important reprieve to regain that lately elusive spark.